Hey there, aspiring engineering leader! Kudos on reaching this pivotal juncture in your career. We get that evolving from a developer to a software engineering manager isn't a walk in the park.
Let's dive deep into understanding both the technical and managerial hats you'll wear and how to harmonize the two for peak effectiveness.
What Technical Responsibilities Do Software Engineering Managers Have?
As the software engineering manager, you're the chief of the technical realm, leading development projects and helming dev teams. Tasks in your technical bucket include charting out the technical trajectory for the team, navigating architecture and design waters, instilling best coding practices, running code assessments, and furnishing technical mentorship to budding developers.
A part of your job also covers project orchestration, resource allotment, liaison with stakeholders, technical debt management, and staying synced with the newest software trends and tools.
What Managerial Responsibilities Do Software Engineering Managers Have?
Your managerial wing deals primarily with honing the human aspect of your dev team. This encompasses supervising performance, crystal-clear goal setting, periodic reviews, constructive feedback loops, and crafting a conducive team atmosphere.
Effective communication is the linchpin, given your frequent interactions with clients, other departments, and the top brass. Additionally, hiring, onboarding, endorsing professional growth, conflict resolutions, and being the voice for your team's aspirations and growth, all fall under this canopy.
How Can New Engineering Managers Balance Technical and Managerial Duties?
You may find yourself juggling multiple projects, trying to meet tight deadlines, and taking the initiative to stay on top of the latest industry trends. In times like these, it's important to remember that you don't have to do everything alone.
One way to reduce your workload and increase productivity is to delegate tasks to other teammates. Delegation involves entrusting someone else with a task that you would normally perform yourself. This could include anything from project management duties to people management tasks.
By delegating, you can free up more time to focus on critical tasks that only you can do. Also, delegating tasks can help build a sense of trust and collaboration within your dev team, leading to increased motivation and job satisfaction.
In the event that you’re not able to delegate tasks, and your work pile gets bigger and bigger, it might be a good idea to start prioritizing things.
One of the first things you can do is to make a list of all the tasks you need to complete. This will help you get an overview of everything that needs to be done and help you avoid forgetting anything important. Once you have a list, how about tackling the easy stuff? Those pesky to-dos that will take you a few minutes — get them out of the way first. This will significantly decrease your list size and will bump up other tasks for you to evaluate.
Also, be sure to break down your tasks into smaller, manageable chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed. For instance, if you have a report to write, you can break it down into smaller sections and focus on completing one section at a time.
Another technique is to think about the impact that each task will have on your objectives. Remember, not all tasks are created equal, and some may be more complex or require more time and effort than others. Therefore, it's essential to take into account the resources available to you, such as time, budget, and personnel, when prioritizing tasks.
As an engineering manager, it's essential to stay on top of your game and to lead...like a boss! So, don't be that person who's still using Excel to keep track of 1:1 meetings!
With an ever-evolving tech landscape, stay abreast with industry updates. You'll be able to make better decisions and provide more effective guidance to your dev team down the line.
Attend software conferences, skim through journals, podcasts, and forums. Keeping a basic grasp of technicalities helps in connecting with your team and decision-making.
Develop Leadership Skills
You're a boss now, so it's time to act like one! Work on developing your leadership skills, like effective communication, providing feedback, and motivating your team. If you need help in this area, don't be afraid to ask for it.
To be regarded as a good leader means you have to speak like one. So, practice good communication. You can do this by regularly checking in with your developers and providing them with regular updates on projects or goals. This can help keep everyone on the same page and ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives.
Providing constructive feedback is also another important skill to get better at. Feedback helps your teammates understand what they're doing well and where they need to improve. When providing feedback, be specific and focus on behaviors rather than personality traits. Motivating your team is also crucial to effective leadership. You get the chance to help your developers be more productive and engaged.
The best way to get things done is to work together!
We’ve written about this in a previous post. Worth repeating is that collaborating is key to building a strong dev team. By encouraging collaboration, you get to share ideas, skills, and knowledge with each other. That can lead to improved problem-solving, increased innovation, and better decision-making.
A key part of collaborating is actively listening to team feedback, addressing your developers’ concerns, and recognizing their contributions. Taking the time to acknowledge individual developers' hard work and accomplishments can go a long way in building a positive and supportive team culture.
We hope these tips help you balance your technical and managerial responsibilities and lead your dev team to success.
If you're looking for more advice and insights, check out our YouTube channel about engineering leadership.
Maximize Tools and Resources
In our digital age, leverage the myriad of software and project management tools at your disposal. From task management tools like Trello or Asana to communication platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, technology can be your ally in managing projects and teams seamlessly. Regularly evaluate and upgrade your tech stack to keep pace with the dynamic world of software development.